After doing their best to make it work, the developers at Inversoft (http://www.inversoft.com) had to accept one simple truth: The public cloud solution that hosted their development environment was impeding their ability to serve their customers.
For nearly a decade, companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 500 have turned to Inversoft for help managing their online communities. Inversoft’s CleanSpeak profanity filtering and moderation software makes it simple for companies to confidently provide online forums and chat functionality, without the administrative hassles.
Initially, Inversoft relied on a public cloud provider to host their development and test environment. However, problematic lapses in services occurred far too frequently. Inversoft CEO Brian Pontarelli explains, “Cloud providers are aggressive about upgrading their hardware because they want to be competitive, but it’s problematic when they schedule downtime. They’d tell us they just bought a bunch of new servers and they want to move our instances around, so they’re going to have to take us down at a certain time. But then they’d never really come back up right. Because of underlying structural changes, things didn’t always work perfectly. That was a major pain point.”
Another obstacle was a lack of performance. With customers sometimes sending thousands of messages per second, it is important that Inversoft runs demanding performance tests to ensure proper throughput with their software. Unfortunately, their cloud provider’s servers were not always up to the task. “I couldn’t understand why our performance tests were failing so badly,” said Pontarelli. “So we ran some quick tests. I essentially ran a million operations on the public cloud instance, and then I ran the exact same operation locally. It was immediately obvious that we’d get much faster — and most important to us — consistent performance by moving away from a public cloud.”
To meet the growing needs of their business, Inversoft moved their deployment environment to a locally hosted Iris 1181 rack mount server from Pogo Linux and have been happy with the results ever since. Not only have they achieved greater performance consistency but their overall build and test times have gone down significantly. “As soon as we deployed our first Pogo server, we were able to get our build and release times down from over two hours to about twenty minutes!” In addition Inversoft was able to get consistent performance for their test suite, no longer having to restart tests caused by their previous cloud server having uneven performance.
The experience with their Pogo infrastructure and running their workload locally has influenced what Inversoft now recommends to their own customers. “We advise our clients not to start in a public cloud if they can avoid it. You really need to make a decision. Is performance, security and stability more important, or is it horizontally scaling, spinning up instances in a minute, and having this dashboard for managing all your services? A lot of companies have to work their way through the process of figuring that out. Beyond certain limits, there’s nothing we can do to make the cloud services any faster.” In search of better performance and reliability for their customers, Inversoft plans on offering a complete hosted and managed solution, custom built for the demands and uptime requirements of their software.
Noting that businesses are often building their online communities on top of decade-old technology, Inversoft has responded by designing two new services from the ground up, incorporating modern APIs to make online communities both more flexible and easier to manage. The new services, called Gather and Passport, provide a very customizable and scalable forum platform, and also ease the complexities of user account management. Pontarelli explains, “We’re looking at helping brands build online communities. If you want to set up a chat system in one of your games, or you want to set up a forum where people can talk about your products, the software currently available is very old and outdated. We saw a clear opportunity to elevate the online community experience by developing a next-generation solution.” Judging by the success of their previous products, it is no surprise that they already have customers lining up for the new offerings.
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